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If there is one thing in life that is certain, it is that change is unavoidable and inevitable.
We are quick to say “this too shall pass” when we are facing any kind of adversity, but we forget that the same saying applies when things are going well. When you feel like you are on top of the world, it takes just one bad day to bring you back down to earth with a bump.
Maybe it’s a lost job or a catastrophic injury or illness. Perhaps it’s the sudden loss of a loved one, or a crisis of faith. No matter what is going wrong, you are never 100% helpless – even though it might feel that way in your worst moments.
One thing you can always do, whatever the circumstances, is take charge and change your mindset. This list was created for that very reason, as we know that sometimes shifting your perspective can help you get back on your feet.
Keep reading to find out about shifting your perspective in a crisis, or even if you’re not.
1. Find some perspective.
When things are going wrong, we sometimes feel like a veil of darkness has fallen upon us. Try as we might, we just can’t see our way through to penetrating the fabric and letting the fresh air pour in.
It can be tempting enough to go down the “why me?” route, where we believe that if we rail against the darkness enough, something will change. Either the darkness itself will take pity on us and change its nature or withdraw, or someone else will light our way.
This kind of thinking is not the kind that will help you when times are difficult. Rather than thinking “why me?” ask yourself – well, why not me? What makes me so special that I never have to suffer as others do? Achieving a sense of perspective is the first step to coping in a crisis, and overcoming the urge to rant and rail at things you can’t control.
Relying on others to help can actually make it harder for you to find perspective – especially if the crisis is of a personal nature, like losing a job or the end of a relationship or friendship. Avoid asking others what they would do or say, but focus on finding your own path. While friends and family members often want what is best for you, it’s better (and healthier) to come to your own conclusions and make your own decisions when faced with crises like this.
2. You aren’t alone
While I admit that certain personal types of personal crisis can be harder to deal with when you allow others to influence you, you should never assume that you are completely on your own. Help can appear from the most unexpected of sources. Sometimes, if you start doing the work, the universe meets you halfway by sending the person with just the right skills or advice you need.
Though complaining will rarely get you any assistance, there is no reason you should not share your story with others – especially when that story involves your mental health. While a stoic attitude and stiff upper lip may feel more dignified, it is often humility that paves the path to redemption. Nobody can help you if they don’t know you need help. Share your situation with family, friends, acquaintances, and even strangers – let them know what is going on, and be open to their offers of support and assistance.
You never know when someone might provide you with the one thing you need to completely change your perspective on a situation. It could be a tangible resource, or it could just be information or an idea – or simply a new point of view.
Be open to these new ideas and viewpoints, and don’t say “no!” to help out of pride or stubbornness.
3. The past is in the past
You would think the older you get, the easier it would be to handle bumps in the road, right?
A lot of us discover that in actuality, it is the opposite. We think we have the maturity to face a crisis, as well as previous experience. Unfortunately, some of us find that certain crises – whether the loss of a relative, the loss of a job, or episodes of depression or anxiety – remind us of all the negative things we have already faced in the past. We start to relive the bad things that have happened to us, and become overwhelmed by the thought that it is all happening again.
When facing new challenges, try to remember that the past is in the past. Leave it where it belongs. If lessons from the past can help you avoid repetition, use them. But avoid the fatalistic thinking that assumes that just because something bad is happening now, everything will go back to the way it was.
You have the choice to build your future as you want it, and the opportunity to use your current circumstances to help you get there.
4. You have overcome adversity before
However young you are, this can apply to you. Don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t understand what it is like to face hardship simply because you are young – because no one is immune to suffering. Losing a family member, home, or friend at an early age can be devastating, but they can also grant you the emotional maturity you’ll need to go on.
In other words, the more you face in your life, the more victories you will store up.
When you find yourself flashing back to the scary memories in your past, remind yourself of how those difficult times shaped you. Whether it was through hard work, a brilliant idea, or a helping hand you didn’t expect, you are here. It seemed impossible then, too!
5. This too shall pass
Going back to what I said at the beginning, it’s important to remember that nothing ever stays the same. We are constantly changing and evolving, both in the ways we deal with things and the opportunities that present themselves.
There are some thresholds you can only cross in one direction, though. Not all sicknesses have cures, but thankfully many crises do not fall into this category. Those that do are difficult to face, whether they are happening to us personally or someone close to us. Chronic illnesses can be overwhelming and scary: reach out to others and build a community of people who understand and empathise with your fears. Whether your struggles are with anxiety, depression, fibromyalgia, MS, asthma, or anything else – don’t lose hope that new therapies and treatments can emerge to help you get the best out of your life.
From another perspective, if you just lost your job and right now all your applications are going unanswered, try to remind yourself that this situation is temporary. Perhaps tomorrow might just be the day that you get that long-awaited phone call.
6. Necessity is the mother of invention
We’ve all heard that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
But if you’ve taken a few knocks in life, you may not entirely agree.
However, you might also have heard that necessity is the mother of invention – meaning that needing to change or adapt to something, often leads to wonderful outcomes. The odds are that at least some of the challenges you have faced has given you a valuable lesson.
Maybe it was a new job or a new friend, improved professional or people skills, or better money management skills. Its’ definitely true that adversity can make us stronger. Sometimes it also makes us smarter.
Admittedly, not all the changes we undergo are positive: adversity can make us anxious and hesitant in the future. It can instill self-doubt which can follow us over the years to come. But, there are usually plenty of positive changes to offset those negative ones, and holding fast to those can help you face difficulties in the future.
7. Other people do not always know best
When you are in a crisis, it can feel that everyone in the world wants to tell you what is happening and what you should do.
Sometimes their advice is indispensable; sometimes, as in my own experience, it can even save you from depression.
But unfortunately, this isn’t always the case – not all the people who are offering you their opinion have the best intentions. There are a lot of negative people out there. They say that misery loves company, because it’s true: people who are going through difficult times themselves would love to commiserate with someone in the same position; while others are looking for an outlet to project their failures on you. Though it can be hard to consider, others may even be rooting for your downfall.
If your gut tells you that someone does not have your best interests at heart, take the positive step of dismissing their negativity and move forward. Listen to the people you know want you to make it, and believe you can do it.
8. A phoenix always burns up in flames before it is reborn.
If the phoenix – whether in classic literature, movies, or even the Harry Potter novels – has taught us anything, it’s that before you can be reborn as a smarter, stronger, happier person, sometimes you have to say goodbye to something first.
Consider that you are going through crisis now because there is something better out there waiting for you. Maybe losing your job is the best thing in the world, and you just don’t know it yet. Losing a job that makes you feel safe but not challenged could be a sign that your real career hasn’t yet begun. Maybe that injury that forced you to move back to your hometown for support will reconnect you with the people you love. Maybe the crisis of faith you are facing now will actually strengthen your belief.
Whatever the case may be, you cannot turn this page in the story of your life until you are ready to let go of it. Sometimes when we cling to those pages, life turns the page for us. We may not be ready for it, but you will never know what the future has in store for you until you move forwards.
Sometimes a “tragedy” is a blessing in disguise. Has this happened to you? Share your experience with us in the comments.